An article in The Jewish Week about a new Haggadah for men only has really got me confused. Here is an admittedly simplistic timeline of the last 35 years.

  1. Judaism is seen as being too male centered, with commentaries on the Torah written by males for males and women excluded from various rituals.
  2. Reform Judaism takes note and goes completely egalitarian – ordaining its first female Rabbi in 1972.
  3. Over the next 30 years male participation in Reform Judaism drops drastically – going from 400 Brotherhoods with 40,000 members to 250 Brotherhoods with 20,000 members and dropping to only 20 -25 percent of Hebrew Union College Rabbinical student body.
  4. Since “much of the new spirituality in Judaism feels effeminate to men”, in 2008, Reform Judaism attempts to woo men back by putting out a collection of commentaries on the Torah by male Rabbis about male topics.
  5. In a further attempt to deal with the imbalance Reform Judaism then puts out a Haggadah exclusively for males and 25 Brotherhoods around the country buy these Haggadahs and conduct a MALE ONLY SEDER (even female Cantor’s excluded)!

So apparently men have different needs then women after all! They need their own space, agendas and perspective in order to connect to spirituality. Can you see why this would be confusing?
[Blessings for a wonderful Yom Tov to all – male and female! May we all be worthy of connecting to the spiritual emanations of global, national and personal redemption available to us through the mitzvot of Pesach.]